Tag Archives: children’s literature

CYBILS: Call for Judges

7 Sep

The CYBILS, Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards, are looking for book bloggers and reviewers to volunteer for this year’s awards. I got the chance to judge in the first round a few years ago for the children’s nonfiction category and really learned a lot about nonfiction titles that I probably wouldn’t have read otherwise.

So what is it all about?

Here’s the date information, first:

  • August 21: Call for judges
  • Sept. 11: Deadline for judging application
  • Sept. 18: Judges announced.
  • Oct. 1: Nominations open
  • Oct. 15: Nominations close
  • October 16-25: Publisher submissions
  • Oct. 1-Dec. 29: Round 1 reading period
  • Dec. 29: Short lists due
  • Jan. 1: Finalists announced
  • Jan. 2-Feb. 12: Round 2 reading period
  • Feb. 12: Winners list due
  • Feb. 14: Winners announced

If you’re interested in judging in the first round, you’ll get the chance to review every title nominated for the category through library checkouts, copies from publishers, ebooks, etc. You’re group of judges is required to create a list of 5-7 shortlist titles for the second round judges to review.

If you’re a second round judge, you have about six weeks to really review the shortlist titles and get into a debate to choose  the best title for the category to win the prize. I really enjoy this award because it takes into consideration both literary merit as well as interest.

I’d love to be a judge again, but right now is not my time as I have to still deal with the flooding in our lower level (lots of repairs) and a new blog look and feel coming soon. Hopefully I get the chance to participate in the future, but if you’re interested, definitely fill out an application or at the very least, submit some titles for consideration!


Role Model or “Other”? How Windows & Mirrors Are Vital to Today’s Society

23 Aug

merlin_142546497_36442d81-e409-4d02-b378-cbfa188d8bc3-jumbo.jpgActress Kelly Marie Tran, wrote a beautiful piece in The New York Times this week as a means of responding to horrible harassment online after becoming the first woman of color to be cast in a leading role in the Star Wars franchise.

In the article, she discusses how she felt growing up feeling like “the other” and that the harassment online that forced her to delete her social media accounts this year brought those feelings back to the surface. What’s amazing to me is that there were young girls dressing up as her Star Wars character heading to the movies and at Comic-Cons because for many of them, this was a character they could relate to – a character that looked like them and yet Kelly still felt rejected by so many people who harassed her publicly. It’s feelings that don’t easily go away or ones that are resolved with a quick fix, but is a cultural mindset that needs to be changed more than anything else.

I’ve talked about the importance of windows and mirrors in literature and it’s just as important on the silver screen. With movies that are earning millions at the box office like Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians. The world is demanding to see people of color on the screen, the publishing world is demanding to see diverse books and I hope that this is just the tip of the iceberg. I’m lucky that finding a character like me in the books I read is easy (because for so many it’s downright difficult to see yourself in books), but what I love more is learning about experiences that I may never have through the characters I meet in books. Those windows and mirrors are so vitally important, make sure that you take a look at your own bookshelf and check for both!

Tips & Tricks for Booktalking

9 Aug

Yesterday, I posted about the disservice of labeling books “boy” or “girl.” Today, I’m going to give you some tips and tricks for booktalking great books to kids – hopefully pushing beyond stereotypes and focusing on pairing children with their right book at their right time. Because it’s not our right book (what we think they should be reading), but it’s what the child needs at that particular moment in time! Corrina Allen talks about this very concept in her podcast, Books Between and other great tips on not becoming a book witch!

Hopefully, I didn’t scare you away from the task because although I LOVE suggesting titles to kids, it can be very overwhelming at times. I look at booktalking in two ways – the first, a more formal presentation of the book, selling it to a group of educators or kids trying to get them interested in the story without spoiling it and the other way to booktalk is matching kids up one-on-one with a book while working the reference desk or being on the public floor of the library (or on social media or in my personal life when people ask me to suggest a good book).

I’m going to leave “group” booktalking for another post as that is something that is an entity all on its own and would make a great post. Today, I’m going to focus on that one-on-one conversation often called Reader’s Advisory in the library world.

  1. Be Positive
    Whatever you do, don’t try and booktalk a book you’re not excited about. It comes across as fake and kids will pick up that emotion and not be interested in what you have to offer. Rather, if you didn’t like something, say so, kids love it when an adult doesn’t like something and they may be interested in your dislike enough to pick up a book. That being said, if you’re not a fan of a genre or format, you need to at least be familiar with titles to suggest, so you can offer a well-rounded list of books. (The A to Z Glossary of the Kid Lit World)
  2. Reading Level or Age/Grade
    This does not mean AR or other leveled reading program, instead this is just to get an idea of what books to suggest – easy readers or is a kid ready for chapter books, are they reading middle grade titles, but maybe they’re not quite ready for young adult books. This is important to know and also be willing to throw it out the window if a kid is ready and willing to read anything!
  3. Favorite Books
    Does the child have books that they do love? Or a recent book that they liked? This is an important question to ask because if a child is super excited about Diary of a Wimpy Kid, then you can easily suggest Wimpy Kid readalikes.
  4. Favorite Genres/Formats
    Some kids will be more willing to read specific genres or formats (not unlike adults), so it’s important to know this in advance – don’t go suggesting fiction titles for a reader who prefers to read nonfiction. Not to say you can’t try and offer a fiction title, but be prepared to offer what kids are most excited for.
  5. Favorite Movies/TV shows/Videogames
    Asking a kid about a favorite movie, TV show, or video game is two-fold – one, it shows kids that you’re interested in them and creates a stronger relationship and two, it can give you some clues as to what to give them – do they like comedy, drama, action/adventure, etc.? This information is helpful in figuring out a child’s interests in books.
  6. Be Familiar
    It’s important as a gatekeeper to be familiar with a variety of genres, formats, authors, illustrators, styles and more. And this is the part of the job I could always use more time for – reading reviews, reading books, learning more about authors – there are so many titles being published and so little time. But a good gatekeeper keeps an updated and backlist log of titles for all genres and formats at the ready.
  7. Offer Choices
    I never give kids one specific book (unless they ask for a specific title), rather I like to offer them 3-5 titles that they can check out and take home or peruse in the library to make a better choice – getting them to read the synopsis or a few pages, something that will make them say, “This is the one I want.”
  8. Walk Away
    This statement could also be, “be patient.” I usually leave a handful of titles with the child, preferably somewhere they can spread them out and then I walk away. Give them time to explore the books without having an adult they feel the need to please hovering over their shoulder. This idea usually works when they come up to the desk and let me know what they picked out, or if they’re not into any of those titles, it’s back to more questions to find a new stack of books. Rinse and repeat.

Check back tomorrow for a list of recently published titles that are for absolutely anyone who enjoys a really good book!

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